Dedication of Valley Home Community Center Park – Saturday, June 18, 2011
This story begins in 1903 and has surprises, happy moments, unknown moments and sad moments but has a happy ending and a new beginning on Saturday, June 18, 2011. You might ask, “What kind of a story is this?” Let me tell it to you.
At the turn of the century into the 1900’s a Stockton Savings & Loan Co. (now Bank of Stockton) had foreclosed on a large piece of land and had hired a Realtor named Schilling to dispose of the land that was located along the Southern Pacific Railroad line that included stops at Trigo, Cometa, Clyde and Oakdale. The smart Realtor knew exactly where to focus his search and he sent advertisements to German settlements in the northern Midwest, listing the advantages of moving west and settle anew in this “land of paradise” where the land was right for grain farming.
Shortly before this, German born Robert Weitzig had, in 1901 moved from Missouri to settle in Clyde along the S. P. Railroad line in Stanislaus County where he had purchased forty acres, built a home and barn on the land, planted grapes and began building a herd of dairy cows. A well drilling man by trade, Weitzig made a comfortable living in the growing area. With his wife, Irene (Yeager), he had one child, a daughter Freda who lived on the land until passing away a few years ago.
So, in 1903 another German settler with his wife and children, who had sold their property, packed what they could take with them, and boarded a series of trains to Stockton and then on to Oakdale. When the train made a stop at Clyde, Fred Volkman, wife Clara and daughter Freida took the steps from the coach into “a land of paradise.” Soon Volkman had built the first commercial building, consisting of two stores – a general merchandise store and a combined saloon/hotel/living quarters and a dance floor upstairs. It was named the Thalheim Hotel in remembrance of his hometown in Germany. A post office was established the same year with Volkman the first postmaster.
Thalheim soon had more businesses in town – Soehl’s hardware store, a lumber yard, a second saloon, Frank Borchardt’s general which later became the Key Store. A German Lutheran Church was built on Lone Tree Road with services held in German until World War I when a government agent ordered the services be presented in English due to anti-German feelings.
An important even occurred on August 12, 1913 and that was when the Town of Thalheim received its heart – the Thalheim Literary & Social Club clubhouse. Records show the clubhouse committee had been looking after building plans and a building site as early as February of that year. At a March meeting of the Financial Committee of the Social Club it was decided to incorporate and sell stock to anybody wishing to buy at one dollar a share to build the proposed clubhouse. At the same time, it was announced that McLaughlin and Soehl had donated three city lots to the Literary & Social Club for a clubhouse building site.
The April 10, 1913 issue of the Oakdale Leader reports, “A very interesting meeting was held and $500 has been pledged in cash for the new social hall. A large sum will be represented by voluntary labor.” The Thalheim Literary & Social Club opened the new clubhouse door on August 12, 1913 by presenting a five-act drama, entitled, “The Pet of Parson’s Ranch.”
The Thalheim or later called the Valley Home clubhouse served the community by hosting plays, weddings & anniversaries, receptions, graduation ceremonies, regular meeting of various clubs such as 4-H, fund raisers of organizations such as school parent’s club, the Valley Home Children’s Theater, and the list goes on, even including a meeting of a committee to help win World War I by furnishing fuel for the U.S.S. Stanislaus, a proposed Navy ship honoring this county and the formation of the Valley Home Volunteer Fire Department.
The building became tired and needed help. The Valley Home Community Club lost its members for different reasons and the building was finally vacated about 10-15 years ago and soon began to suffer. The worst enemy of historic buildings is neglect and this took its toll.
A new Community Center Board of Directors was established, plans were made to restore the old clubhouse but modern building codes are much different than early day building codes. It was found that it would be impossible to restore the clubhouse so another important use for the parcel had to be found. It was found, the Board voted to establish a community park – A Valley Home Community Center Park.
So, join us in dedicating the New Heart for Valley Home Community, the Valley Home Community Center Park. The celebration will be June 18, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at the park on Pioneer Avenue opposite the school. Chairs are limited so bring one if you can.